Sunday, June 19, 2005

What does Carsharing Cost in Asia?

Right now commercial carsharing exists only in two countries in Asia - Singapore and Australia. But, talk about competition - Singapore has four CSOs!

NTUC Income Co-op is the oldest CSO in Singapore having started in 1997 by an insurance company that operates several high rise residential complexes. Reports are that they've spent $1.5 million to get the project underway. NTUC has 29 stations with a variety of cars. Whizzcar is an NTUC franchise. Both use the Invers technology. Whizzcar has 24 car locations. (It's not clear whether people make jokes about "taking a Whizz" in Singapore, but apparently having a picnic in a Mazda MPV, pictured above, is something that must be appealing to the locals.)

Honda DIRACC, which used to be called Honda ICVS, only has Honda Civic Hybrids, and uses a proprietary in-vehicle technology (which is not related to Flexcar's system). It primarily serves the downtown area of Singapore from 8 "ports" (pods) totalling 50 vehicles, including a new location at Changi Airport. It is the only service that allows one-way rental between ports. In the most recent, rate changes, Honda lowered the hourly rates after the initial 20 minutes and increased KM charges slightly. They claim 70% utilization on weekends, 40% at night and 18% during the day. In February 2004 they announced they were planning to expand to other cities in Asia. (I am unable to determine what DIRACC stands for.)

CitySpeed is the low-cost CSO in Singapore and uses SMS (cell phone messaging) to unlock its vehicles. The member simply sends a 6-digit code given to them at reservation time to unlock the vehicle, which occurs within 15 seconds. The call must come from a phone already registered with CitySpeed. At the end of the trip another SMS message locks the vehicle. CitySpeed has 38 stations. (I am unable to determine how many vehicles these CSOs have.) All Singapore CSOs charge a $100 refundable security deposit.

Apparently the carsharing market in Singapore is sufficiently mature that cross-usage agreements are the latest member enhancements. Honda DIRACC has recently signed a cross-membership agreement with NTUC since their vehicle locations do not overlap. NTUC already had a cross-usage agreement with Whizzcar. Cross-usage billing is at the member's home company rates.

In Australia, Melbourne and Sydney, pioneers Nic Lowe and Bruce Jeffreys started Newtown Carsharing in 2003 but later changed the name to GoGet and announced the intention to "go national" with the creation of Carsharing Australia. They now have 1 pod in Melbourne and 9 in Sydney. They require a $500 refundable security deposit. GoGet gives their vehicles cute names like Zipcar does.

Rates, converted to US dollars, for a "compact" (Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla-sized) vehicle are as follows:

Honda DIRACC - $5.39/hour+ 15¢ per mile; membership is $15/month, $72/year (includes one extra membership) or $18 year for weekday car use only
NTUC Income Coop Standard - $6.89/first hour ($6.29 each additional hour) includes 6 miles per hour + 15¢ per mile for addition KMs; membership is $12/month
NTUC ValueShare - $5.69/first hour ($4.49 each additonal hour) includes 6 miles per hour + 15¢ per mile above (suggested when bills are over $35/month; members can switch between plans)
Whizzcar Standard - $7.19/first hour ($6.59 each addtional hour) includes 6 miles per hour) + 15¢ per mile above; Membership $6/month
Whizzcar Extra Value - $5.99/first hour ($5.39 each additional hour) includes 6 miles per hour + 15¢ per mile above; minimum usage is $35 for the month
CitySpeed - $7.13/hour (includes 6 miles per hour) + 15¢ per mile above; Membership $60 annual

GoGet Occasional - $4.66/hour + 17¢ per mile; Membership is $15per month
GoGet Frequent - $3.10/hour + 17¢ per mile; Membership is $30 per month

(As in previous posts, if I've got things wrong, please let me know and I'll update the entry.)

Singapore CSOs offer some unusual pricing for their services:
Weekends (starting Friday at 7 pm until Monday at 8 am) and nights ( 7pm - 8 am) are the peak times in Singapore. (The rates above are weekday period to be consistent with my other posts.)
Several price their service in an initial 20 minute increment and half hour increments after that. (I've converted them to hourly rates above.)
All offer daily rates; CitySpeed caps usage at $12 hours per day.
Whizzcar has a two month trial offer - $200 usage payable in advance + $200 deposit (refundable, minus $50 admin. fee).
CitySpeed offers the option to reduce the Collision Damage Waiver deductible from $600 to $240 for $3.50 per day.
NTUC and CitySpeed offer the option to take cars across the border to West Malaysia for a US$35 additional fee.

NTUC has produced a nice member video (in English) demonstrating the use of the Invers key manager system which you can see at the link below.